Explosive issue

KING ISLAND’S tungsten mine at Grassy could be left without the explosives needed to operate due to an inability to land the dangerous goods at the island’s port. As it stands the Stanley, Devonport and King Island are ports without approval for Explosives and Dangerous Goods (DG) 5.1.

G6M general manager Chas Murcott said explosives permits and the ability to do drill and blast were fundamental to the mine’s operation. He said these were required for commencement of mining in December this year. The Dolphin Tungsten Mine is a hard rock mining operation requiring explosives to break the rock before it is dug up. Drilling and blasting is planned to commence in December 2022 with conventional open pit explosives using ammonium nitrate emulsion in accordance with their permits to operate. The bulk emulsion explosive is supplied and manufactured on mainland Australia. The Devonport Port has no approved berths for HD 1.1, 1.2 explosives, and 1.1D prohibited such as blasting explosives.

Stanley and King Island Ports are without approval for Explosives and Dangerous Goods (DG) 5.1. TasPorts and its wholly owned subsidiary, Bass Island Line (BIL) were aware there were no approved berths for explosives in Devonport when they ceased the direct shipping link between Victoria and King Island and appointed SeaRoad as the transhipper.

The on-island freight forwarder McKenzie’s Agencies states on their website that SeaRoad, the TasPorts appointed transhipper of freight destined for King Island, which links Victoria to King Island via Devonport and to the ship John Duigan “does not carry explosives”. “G6M is working closely with TasPorts on securing the required port explosive permit for King Island,” Mr Murcott said.

TasPorts chief operating officer, Stephen Casey said the transport of explosives was regulated by WorkSafe Tasmania. “Importation of explosives to Grassy is currently not permitted,” Mr Casey said. “Taking account of that, TasPorts is working with G6M to identify the best solution that will meet all regulatory requirements.”

The State Government announced in February last year it was providing a $10m loan to restart the mine. By October the mine had reached its funding targets and commenced redevelopment of the tungsten mine, which closed in 1990. King Island’s Dolphin tungsten mine has one of the few remaining high quality tungsten deposits in the western world. “We continue to ramp up construction activities in line with our schedule,” G6M CEO Keith McKnight said.

“The recent completion of the earthworks and commencement of civil works are hugely important activities that will allow Gekko to commence the process plant construction works. “By placing orders for major OEM equipment mid last year, we have ensured that equipment will be delivered on time and within budget, mitigating significant cost escalation and delays. “Once most of the major components are delivered to site by the end of July.”

The company says at this time it remains on track for scheduled production in the first quarter 2023.

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